Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

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Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, god-decreed rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: train to fight and fight to survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Eelyn loses her focus and is captured. Now, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan settling in the valley, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who tried to kill her the day she was captured. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and find a way to forgive her brother while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

 

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Excerpt

 

“I saw him. I saw Iri.”

He wrapped the torn cloth around my arm, tying it tight. “What are you talking about?”

I pushed his hands from me, crying. “Listen to me! Iri was here! I saw him!”

His hands finally stilled, confusion lighting in his eyes. “I was fighting a man. He was about to . . .” I shuddered, remembering how close to death I’d come—closer than I’d ever been. “Iri came out of the fog and saved me. He was with the Riki.” I stood, taking his hand and pulling him toward the tree line. “We have to find him!”

But my father stood like a stone tucked into the earth. His face turned up toward the sky, his eyes blinking against the sunlight.

“Do you hear me? Iri’s alive!” I shouted, holding my arm against my body to calm the violent throbbing around the gash.

His eyes landed on me again, tears gathered at the cor- ners like little white flames. “Sigr. He sent Iri’s soul to save you, Eelyn.”

“What? No.”

“Iri’s made it to Sólbjǫrg.” His words were frightening and delicate, betraying a tenderness my father never showed. He stepped forward, looking down into my eyes with a smile. “Sigr has favored you, Eelyn.”

Mýra stood behind him, her green eyes wide beneath her unraveling auburn braids.

“But—” I choked. “I saw him.”

“You did.” A single tear rolled down my father’s rough cheek and disappeared into his beard. He pulled me into him, wrapping his arms around me, and I closed my eyes, the pain in my arm so great now that I could hardly feel my hand.

I blinked, trying to understand. I had seen him. He was there.

“We will make a sacrifice tonight.” He let me go before he pressed his hands to my face again. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream for me like that. You scared me, sváss.” A laugh was buried deep in his chest.

“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just . . . I thought . . .”

He waited for me to meet his eyes again. “His soul is at peace. Your brother saved your life today. Be happy.” He clapped a hand against my good arm, nearly knocking me down.

I wiped at my wet cheeks with the palm of my hand, turning from the faces that were still watching me. There were very few times I’d cried in front of my clansmen. It made me feel small. Weak, like the early winter grass beneath our boots.

I sniffed back the tears, piecing my face back together as my father nodded in approval. It was what he had taught me—to be strong. To steel myself. He turned back to the field, getting to work, and I followed with Mýra, trying to smooth my ragged breath. To hush the waves crashing in my head. We walked toward our camp, collecting the weapons of fallen Aska warriors along the way. I watched my father from the corner of my eye, still unable to shake Iri’s face from my mind.

My feet stopped at the edge of a puddle and I looked at my reflection. Dirt spattered across my angled face and neck. Blood dried in long, golden braids. Eyes a frozen blue, like Iri’s. I sucked in a breath, looking up to the thin white clouds brushed across the sky to keep another tear from falling.

“Here,” Mýra called to me from where she was crouched over an Aska woman. She was lying on her side, eyes open and arms extended like she was reaching for us.

I carefully unbuckled her belt and scabbard, piling them with the others before I started on the armor vest. “Did you know her?”

“A little.” Mýra reached down to close the woman’s eyes with her fingertips. She gently brushed the hair back from her face before she began, the words coming softly. “Aska, you have reached your journey’s end.”

In the next breath, I joined with her, saying the ritual words we knew by heart. “We ask Sigr to accept your soul into Sólbjǫrg, where the long line of our people hold torches on the shadowed path.”

My voice faded, letting Mýra speak first. “Take my love to my father and my sister. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”

I closed my eyes as the prayer found a familiar place on my tongue. “Take my love to my mother and my brother. Ask them to keep watch for me. Tell them my soul follows behind you.”

I swallowed down the lump in my throat before I opened my eyes and looked down into the woman’s peaceful face one more time. I hadn’t been able to say the words over Iri’s body the way I had when my mother died, but Sigr had taken him anyway.

“Have you ever seen something like that before?” I whispered. “Something that wasn’t real?”

Mýra blinked. “It was real. Iri’s soul is real.”

“But he was older—a man. He spoke to me. He touched me, Mýra.”

She stood, shifting an armful of axes up onto her shoulder. “I was there that day, Eelyn. Iri died. I saw it with my own eyes. That was real.” It was the same battle that took Mýra’s sister. We’d been friends before that day, but we hadn’t really needed each other until then.

I remembered it so clearly—the picture of him like a reflection on ice. Iri’s lifeless body at the bottom of the trench. Lying across the perfect white snow, blood seeping out around him in a melted pool. I could still see his blond hair fanned out around his head, his empty eyes wide open and staring into nothing.

“I know.”

Mýra reached up, squeezing my shoulder. “Then you know it wasn’t Iri—not his flesh.”

I nodded, swallowing hard. I prayed for Iri’s soul every day. If Sigr had sent him to protect me, he really was in Sólbjǫrg—our people’s final sunset. “I knew he would make it.” I breathed through the tightness in my throat.

“We all did.” A small smile lifted on her lips.

I looked back down to the woman lying between us. We would leave her as she was—as she died—with honor. Like we did with all our fallen warriors.

Like we’d left Iri.

“Was he as handsome as he was before?” Mýra’s smile turned wry as her eyes flickered back up to meet mine.

“He was beautiful,” I whispered.

 

Q&A with Adrienne Young:

  1. What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you? Do you have any favorite Viking stories?

The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on this country road and that first scene just hit me – Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

  1. What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest thing you had to research for this book?

I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

  1. What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?

I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote it so fast and it just clicked in so perfectly.

  1. Which of your characters are you the most like? Who was your favorite to write?

Eelyn! We have so much in common and she really inspires me. But I think Halvard was the most fun to write. I really, really love him.

  1. Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would Eelyn’s favorite song be?

Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up – Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

  1. What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?

The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

  1. Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?

Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!

  1. Any details about the companion novel?

I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it soon because I am really excited about it!

 

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About the Author

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

 

 

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World building #InkRipples

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

It’s been a long while since I wrote an #InkRipples post but the summer has been busy as I worked on a new novella to come out this fall.

But I couldn’t not write about world building as I’ve just finished reading the masterpiece that is Six of Crows.

My stories require little to no world building because they are mostly contemporary so they take place in a world we’re all familiar with. It doesn’t take much more than a place name or the mention of the season for the readers to find their bearing in the story setting. I would say my skills at world building are flimsy as a result. I’ve seen this most clearly when writing my current WIP which takes place at a royal court. I had to do a lot more research before I felt comfortable writing about royalty.

So I admire writers like Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J. Maas so much more because they create entire worlds in a way that makes them not just believable, but captivating and intriguing. Even though Ketterdam in Six of Crows is inspired by Amsterdam, the atmosphere Bardugo creates on the page is still unique and so authentic it simply sucks you in. It’s as though you walk those streets and smell the rot in the canals.

Of course, even contemporary stories require a setting so I could call that world building, too. But this is done on a much smaller scale, with descriptions of the surroundings, the details about buildings and weather. It’s important that all this is done through showing and not telling to attract the readers. It’s more about creating an atmosphere which supports the main story, rather than creating an actual world out of nothing. For that, I think magic is needed. Magic like the sort one sees in Six of Crows.

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But I suppose, no matter what sort of a world one is trying to set their story in – an imaginary world where epic things happen or a quiet neighborhood street – it’s all in the details. Even the grandest worlds are built from small pieces of information, descriptions and – most importantly – the characters’ reactions to them. The way the surroundings influence the characters shows best what sort of a world it is and consequently it also affects the readers most. Which is what we, as authors, wish: for the readers to respond to what we write.

#Coverreveal for Tainted by H. C. Harris

 

 

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Buy Links:

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Blurb

Whoever said college was easy? Certainly not Faye Johnson! With shadow creatures stalking and hunting her from the depths of the darkness, Faye soon realizes that being a Light Soul and destroying the evil that lurks in the shadows, won’t make her freshman year any easier.

With the help of her wisecracking best friend Jack, Faye discovers that her ordinary life is about to change drastically. She has an ancient power that the darkness desperately desires. But being untrained, she can’t protect herself for long. That’s when Gabe, a dangerously gorgeous ex-Dark Soul enters her life – seemingly out of thin air.

Jack and Faye’s friendship is put to the test when she starts training with Gabe. Jack warns her that Gabe is dangerous, but she can’t seem to resist her electrifying feelings for him. Events become deadly when the Dark Souls attack and Faye discovers Gabe’s horrifying secret.

Can she count on Jack to be there for her? Can she trust Gabe with her life? Will she be strong enough to protect herself from the darkness that is desperate to kill her?

…And you thought college was easy.

 

Excerpt

I jumped to my feet, feeling restless as my mind continued to speculate. He didn’t even know me. Why was he being such a major stalker? My rage tempted me to find him and demand he start answering my questions. But some sensible part reminded me that probably wouldn’t be a very good idea.

I took my frustration out on my pillow, slamming it against my wall and then falling face down on my bed. This helped me cool off a little bit. But thoughts of Gabe, Jack, and my weird connection with fire still danced in my head.

An idea occurred to me.

All this time, I was in my room, I had bought the candles, I had put them away. But none of them were lit! I got up from my bed, and made my way to the closest one.

“Light,” I commanded.

Nothing happened. The candle just sat there, perfectly untouched and brand new. I felt a little bit relieved. Maybe if my old one had been defective, then maybe everything else Jack and I had been worried about wasn’t true?

“Light!” I commanded again, a little bit more forcefully. Still nothing happened. Before giving up and giving into my endless pile of homework, I gazed at the candle and concentrated my focus.

I blocked out the sounds of the people in my hall, the cheers and laugher flowing in from my open window, and the smell of pizza originating from the dining hall around the corner. It was just me and the candle. We were the only two things in this world. It was just us.

“Light.”

It burst into flames!

I stumbled back against my bed, shocked. I had made the candle burn, without a lighter or matches. I did that: I’d lit it. How was that possible?

I felt the heat from my anger begin to boil my blood as I realized everything Jack and I were fearful of, was true. I was in trouble. I had no idea what I was, or what it meant. I had no idea why Gabe was stalking me. I had no answers and I didn’t know what to do or who could help me. All of my confusion just further fueled my anger. I felt myself begin to lose control. As my anger grew, so did the flame.

I stood up straight, a determination igniting in my veins. I might not have all the answers, but I sure as hell knew someone who did. Without thinking, I gave into temptation and ran out of my bedroom, down the hall, and burst through the front doors of the building. I ran past all of the buildings on Redstone Campus and into the surrounding woods. I felt the branches and leaves scrape against my skin, but still I kept running. I didn’t stop. Not until I was deep enough into the forest to find I was alone with the darkness.

He’ll come, I thought. Soon enough, he will find me.

 

About the Author:

H. C. Harris has been daydreaming, imagining stories, and composing music since before she could even write! She was born and raised in New Hampshire before moving to Burlington, Vermont for college. During her senior year at the University of Vermont, she discovered she had a passion for creating fantasy stories that transported her readers to mysterious and romantic places.

H. C. Harris shared samples of her work with her online audience. Fans have described it as, “addicting,” “a page-turner,” and “swoon-worthy.” With their encouragement, she submitted her work to publishing companies and is now contracted with Inkspell Publishing!

She currently lives in Hartford, Connecticut where she is working on her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She teaches Spin classes, loves playing the piano, drinking coffee and taking her German Shepherd and Black Lab for runs!

You can follow H. C. Harris on Twitter at: @writeforlifehch, on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/hcharris.tainted/ and follow her book updates on her personal website: www.hcharris.net

cover-reveal

Hi everyone!

Today, I’m so excited to share the wonderful cover for Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales. This anthology of fantasy/SFF short stories has been put together in aid of Lift 4 Autism, and releases April 1st, 2017. 100% of the proceeds will go to Lift 4 Autism. How great is that?

So, let’s take a look at the gorgeous cover!

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Isn’t it beautiful?

The cover was designed and created by Stephanie Keyes, and it fits the stories in the anthology perfectly.

About the anthology…

In Ever in the After, 13 authors come together to explore fantastical realms full of supernatural creatures, dark intrigue, and spells that may–or may not–be curses.

ever-in-the-after_cover_3dThis anthology features work by:

  • Melle Amade
  • Miracle Austin
  • J. A. Culican
  • Madeline Dyer
  • Jessica Hawke
  • Alaina Hebert
  • Elizabetta Holcomb
  • Stephanie Keyes
  • Christopher D. Morgan
  • Mandy Peterson
  • Alice Rachel
  • Cadence Rae
  • Jaqueline E. Smith

A must-have fantasy collection full of surprises, secrets, and strong teenagers who know what they need to do to succeed in these mystical realities.

Add Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales on Goodreads now!

Buy your copy of Ever in the After: 13 Fantasy Tales on April 1st, 2017!